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Get Set For A Flood Of Fast Swimming

Mar 29, 2011  - Craig Lord

With British and French trials for World Championships done and dusted, the world rankings, updated daily at SwimNews by Nick Thierry, are taking shape - but watch them transform before your very eyes in the month ahead as April brings a rush of competition around the world. Over the coming fortnight, meets in Canada, Spain, New Zealand, Spain, the Netherlands, the US, South Africa and Italy will shape the form guide for world titles in Shanghai this July.

Canada gathers for national and world titles trials in Victoria from March 30 - April 3, the words of Pierre Lafontaine, CEO and National Coach for Swimming Canada, drawing on history to reming his troops that London 2012 squads will be mostly composed of Shanghai 2011 troops: "In Beijing, 73 per cent of finalists had marched onto the podium at the previous year’s World Championships in Melbourne. The 2011 World Championships is key to building up for the Olympics next year.  Our performances this summer will set the stage for the next games." All eyes will be on Canada's biggest title hopes, sprinter and world No1 in 2010 over 100m Brent Hayden and distance ace Ryan Cochrane. Adam Sioui will be poolside for SwimNews to bring you all the action from Victoria.

Watch too for coverage of this little lot:

The Spanish Open in Madrid, March 31 - April 3 features a host of Spanish stars, including Mireia Belmonte, who will repeat the programme that delivered three gold and a silver at the world short-course championships last December: 800m freestyle (silver in Dubai); 200m butterfly; 200m and 400m medley. She will face some tough home and overseas challenges, among them Hungarian Zsuzsanna Jakabos, Slovenia's Anja Klinar and in the 800m world champion from Dubai Spanish teammate Erika Villaecija, Chile's much-travelled Kristel Kobrich and Hungarian Agnes Mutina. The visitors list includes George Bovell (TRI) and Henrique Barbosa (BRA) and teams from Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia, Serbia and Uruguay.

On Friday, one of the most anticipated meets of the year gets underway in Sydney, as Australia, world No 2 nation behind the US and a country that has long punched above its weight in water, stages the 2011 Telstra Championships and selects its squad for Shanghai. In the mix at the Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic from April 1 to 8, Commonwealth champions Geoff Huegill, Brenton Rickard, Leisel Jones, Alicia Coutts, Jessicah Schipper and Emily Seebohm, as well as Olympic champion Stephanie Rice and Olympic podium placers Eamon Sullivan and Andrew Lauterstein. In all, some 690 swimmers will compete in 60 events, including paralympic events.

Swimming Australia Head Coach Leigh Nugent said: "We’ve set the qualifying times with the aim of encouraging some close racing and that’s exactly what we expect to see over the eight days of competition … swimmers are going to have to produce quality performances, under pressure. Shanghai will be an important gauge for us heading into an Olympic year, and just like the Olympics there will only be two spots up for grabs in each event at this year’s trials.”

From the 3rd to the 8th, New Zealand's best gather to race for a place in Shanghai, while the Swimcup Eindhoven in the Netherlands is a must-watch from April 7-10. For the Dutch, the meet serves as a trials round for Shanghai, with much focus on who among the world's best concentration of women sprinters can book solo spots. Inge Dekker and Femke Heemskerk, based in Marseilles, will not be joining the home party this time but Marleen Veldhuis, Ranomi Kromowidjojo and Hinkelien Schreuder will - and sparks will doubtless fly. Dekker's season choices mean that she has already missed the cut on solo freestyle events. If she can't be in Eindhoven, world 100m 'fly champion Sarah Sjostrom will be - and will race the Dutch sprinters in the 100m free too. The men's races include this thrilling prospect on 'fly: Joeri Verlinden (NED) Vs the ADN Project team of Jason Dunford (KEN), Evgeny Korotyshkin (RUS), Milorad Cavic (SRB), Sergey Fesikov (RUS). Teams from Sweden, Slovenia, Switzerland, Portugal, Belgium and Luxembourg. 

April 8-10 brings us the next stroke in the soaring, sensational journey of Michael Phelps, winner of 14 Olympic gold medals and a man who offers us lessons from the lessons he has learned on a trajectory to sporting immortality. He and Bob Bowman make a pilgrimage back to their former base at Ann Arbor for the Eric Namesnik Michigan Grand Prix. A host of stars will be on show and while the USA team for Shanghai has been set in stone for a while now, those heading to China will be using the meet to test their skills and speed on the way to the bigger moment.

In Hamamatsu on April 9 and 10, Japanese swimmers will swim on a wave of emotion and world sympathy as they race at the alternative to Tokyo trials cancelled in the wake of the devastation caused by the scale 9 earthquake and resulting tsunami on March 11.

From April 11-16, South Africans race for places in Shanghai, while the Italian spring nationals in Riccione from the 13th to 17th will feature the first real test for Federica Pellegrini under her new regime with coach Philippe Lucas in Paris.

By mid-April, the world rankings will have taken on a different dimension. The SwimNews world rankings are updated daily with all the latest action, providing you with up-to-date and comprehensive insight to the form guide for the season ahead.